Government, parents helpless as kidnappers hold on to abducted students

August 7, 2021
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PARENTS and northern state governments have remained helpless over the continued detainment of abducted pupils and students by their kidnappers. In Kaduna State, the latest case of kidnapping was recorded at Bethel Baptist High School, Kaduna, on July 5, when bandits abducted 121 students of the school. 

Saturday Tribune gathered that 80 of the students are still in captivity after the kidnappers released 41 of them following the payment of a N60 million ransom by the parents. The state chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Reverend Joseph Hayab, in an interview with Reuters, said that “the bandits are now asking each parent to pay N1 million each on the 80 remaining student under their care. That is N80 million.” 

Parents have been the ones bearing the brunt of students’ abductions in the state. The father of one of the released students who did not want to be named said in an interview that he and other parents went through hell before they could raise the N60 million ransom money. 

“I had to sell our family farm and other valuable assets at our disposal. Even one of my sons, who is in the university, had to contribute his tuition fee to see that his younger brother regained freedom,” he said. 

The Nasir El-Rufai-led state government has stuck to its guns not to pay ransom to kidnappers. It is believed that the government closed 13 schools considered to be vulnerable to attacks by kidnappers based on this premise. 

Zamfara 

In Zamfara State, the trauma of the abduction of the now released students of Government Girls Science Secondary School, Jangebe, remains with some parents. 

The father of one of the girls, Malam Sani Jangebe, said: “We know that it is the responsibility of the Federal Government to provide adequate security for the lives and property of every citizen. Zamfara State governor is doing his best but the Federal Government has not provided enough security.” 

Niger 

The Secretary to Niger State Government, Alhaji Ahmed Ibrahim Matane, said recently in an interview that the state government was aware of the forests where the kidnapped students and teachers of Salihu Tanko Islamiyya School, Tegina, in Rafi Local Government Area, were being kept by their abductors but the parents and relations of the abductees pleaded with the government not to use force in an attempt to rescue the victims in order to avoid collateral damage. 

He reiterated the state government’s belief in constructive dialogue with the bandits but lamented that the innocent children were being subjected to unnecessary hardship and forceful separation from their parents. 

The SSG said: “We know where the bandits and the pupils are but we are concerned about the safety of the schoolchildren. We are not prepared to sacrifice the lives of the abductees by applying force because of the collateral damage that may be caused by such an action on our part.”

The state government has insisted that it will not pay ransom to bandits or kidnappers, maintaining that the criminals might use such money to acquire more firearms. It was gathered that the bandits are keeping the victims in different locations covering Niger, Kastina and Zamfara states pending the handing over of a balance of N4.6 million and five motorcycles to them. 

Parents and relations of the victims are said to be working with the school authorities to pay the “balance” and purchase the motorcycles being demanded by the kidnappers. 

Kebbi 

Since June 17 when kidnappers invaded the Federal Government College, BirninYauri in Kebbi State and kidnapped 103 students of the school, 10 of them have so far regained freedom. 

However, the Special Adviser to the State Governor on Security Matters, Garba Kamba, told Saturday Tribune that government was not relenting in its effort to secure the freedom of the remaining students. Kamba said the government was being tactical and diplomatic in its approach to rescuing the victims and gave the insurance that the remaining children would soon be reunited with their families. A distressed parent, Mr Mohammed Bello, said four of his children were among the abducted students. Bello appealed to the government to be more proactive in its efforts. 

He said: “Two months is too long for parents to miss their children, not knowing how they are faring in the bush; what they are eating and drinking. We are in agony. The trauma is too great for us to bear.”

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